G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Twelve years ago, everything was twelve years ago…..sigh…..Nostalgia

Nicholas Carr:

Nostalgia is nothing new. It has been a refrain of art and literature at least since Homer set Odysseus on Calypso's island and had him yearn to turn back time.

(The New Republic, September 2 2011)



Vilas Sarang has written another brilliant book in Marathi-“सर्जनशोध आणि लिहिता लेखक” (Pursuit of Creation and Author Engaged in Writing) (Mauj Prakashan 2007). The book is a collection of author’s literary essays.

I disagree with Sarang on few issues he discusses in the book. But I agree with him on a lot more. He is arguably one of the best literary critic since 1950s anywhere in the world.

Sarang does not rate most Marathi literature of 20th century very highly. Particularly writings of popular authors like P L Deshpande.

In his earlier book (“Aksharancha Shram Kela”, Mauj Prakashan 2000), Sarang explains why P L Deshpande’s translation of “The Old Man And The Sea” is so ineffective. (Deshpande doesn’t understand Hemingway’s ‘and’).

In this book, Deshpande is at the receiving end for another reason-NOSTALGIA.

Sarang says: “Pu La’s most writing invokes nostalgia”. Sarang explains why nostalgic writing is so popular.
“One doesn’t need to do anything to remember! Memories collect easily and effortlessly. Another reason is, to recall one doesn’t need to think. One is freed of thinking and headache arising from thinking! There is a comfort in nostalgia……Nostalgia is popular with readers too because even their brains feel at ease. One can be lost in resplendent dreams of past. If Karl Marx were to be alive today, he would have said ‘Nostalgia is society’s opium‘ ”.

Sarang feels such nostalgia-loving society is regressive, focussed on the past.

Sarang fails to mention another aspect of nostalgia’s popularity: Rich and increasingly culturally dominant community of Non-Resident Marathi Speaking Indians who seem to thrive on nostalgia.

Gurcharan Das has summed it up on May 6, 2007:

"“…there is something a little sad, I find, in my encounters with non-resident Indians. I don’t quite know why. They are successful. They have lovely homes and bright children who go to the best schools. Most have fitted in confidently and some have assumed positions of leadership in their adopted countries. But there is something missing at the core.

I often lecture abroad and run into Indians in the strangest places. The more exotic the city, the more we are drawn to each other. They invite me generously to their homes where they only want to talk about India. They ply me with samosas and hungry questions about our recent economic rise.

Usually, I discover that their memories are frozen, and they hide a shame of a fearful past that forced them to leave home. India has, meanwhile, moved on. Their poignant heart-weariness for their lost homeland leaves me in gloom…

… Indian NRIs are bourgeois to the core …their nostalgia is not for an abstract India but for a definite place and time…

...The prize, even of a lovelorn NRI life, seems liberating. There was a time I used to believe that I am a citizen of the world. I used to say that a blade of grass is the same anywhere. Now I think that each blade of grass has its own spot from where it draws its strength. So is a man rooted to a land from where he draws his faith and his life. But there is also a struggle to extricate ourselves from our pasts — from family, obligations and the “curse of history”.”


Artist: Charles Saxon The New Yorker 9 Sept 1961